Penticton U21 soccer teams will be pushing to work out early season kinks and for a chance to take the championship titles at the Pacific Western Brewery May Classic this weekend.
The tournament, hosted by the Penticton Soccer Club, is in its 52nd year and organizer Charlie Goeckel said it is the longest running tournament in the country. A total of 22 teams from all over Western Canada will be running the pitches in three divisions: mens open, ladies open and ladies recreational.
“It’s wide open this year,” said Goeckel, who was given the award of merit as a long-standing Penticton Pinnacles leader by the Pacific Coast Soccer League last weekend. “There are some teams in there that are coming back that won last year and teams from Vancouver area that always bring good teams.”
Returning champions include Williams Lake on the men’s side and the Kamloops Heat in the ladies open division. The Penticton X-Pinnacles who won the ladies rec division last year are not back this weekend.
“We hope the competition will be fierce and we get some nice weather,” said Goeckel.
The Penticton U21 Greenscape Landscaping women’s team opened up their season splitting last weekend’s games with a 3-1 win over Chilliwack and a 3-0 loss against TSS.
Coach Ray Hintz said this weekend’s tournament comes at a perfect time.
“This is almost like a two-week training camp for us now because we don’t have a league game for awhile. We can get the girls who haven’t been healthy yet some playing time, get our systems going and get the kinks walked out. This is a great opportunity for us to work on our fitness and our touch on the ball,” said Hintz.
Brianne Hrynyk and Alex Varcol put in goals for the U21 team in their opening game on May 11 at Kings Park. Alanna Parker placed a free kick that went off a Chilliwack defender resulting in a goal. Varcol was voted MVP for the game for her left-footed shot from 20 yards that locked up the win, while Hintz commended Kylie Erb for her play.
“I thought she played outstanding for us the whole game, along with Alanna Parker,” said Hintz.
Greenscape then played a tough match against TSS on Sunday. An injury to their backup goalie after a collision resulted in them having to put in a player-goalie for the rest of the game. Down 3-0 at the half, Penticton turned things around but couldn’t overcome TSS.
“It would have been nice to win two games, but I am happy because there was a lot of positives on the field and things that we can fix,” said Hintz.
Last year at the May Classic, Greenscape went undefeated as they headed into the finals against Kamloops. The teams will re-match on Monday at 10 a.m. in this year’s tournament during the round robin.
“It should be a good game, by going by what we saw last year. We just really want to work on a lot of stuff on our team and really capitalize on the time we have,” said Hintz.
The Penticton U21 Tim Horton mens team also opened their season in the PCSL last weekend winning 4-1 over Chilliwack FC. Down 1-0 heading into the second half, the Penticton coach Paulo Araujo made a few changes up the middle and switched tactics to play low pressure.
Within five minutes Robin Whittaker out ran two players and put an easy shot into the net to tie it up.
Andrew Stevenson then was sprung inside the 18-yard box tapping in the ball to make it 2-1 for the Penticton team. They continued to string more passes together, opening up the field which resulted in two more goals; one off a Wyatt Seddon Johnstone 35-yard strike that went off a Chilliwack player, and the other he scored late in the match to earn him the MVP of the game.
The finals in all divisions of the May Classic will be played on Monday. Tournament organizers said the public is invited down to the fields to watch and a beverage garden will be open Saturday to Monday.